Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter Eve

Mother has been wanting this Sweet Gum tree cut down
Tomorrow is Easter Sunday and I am looking forward to the services.  I will be taking the congregation to the tomb of Jesus.  We will arrive there just after everyone who was there has gone.  I will paste below a copy of the sermon for those of you who can not be there for our services.  I have been asked to post on the audio of the first two sermons in this series and then this one as well.  I may do that when I get time.
Me bothering Janie while she is trying to work.
We have had a busy day today.  I got a phone call first thing this morning that one of our church members was taken to the hospital.  We went to visit with her and with another of our members that is in there still.  When we got home Janie mowed the yard while I trimmed the hedges and pruned a tree in the backyard.  She finished before I did and swept out the garage.  With those chores behind us we ate a bite and watched a little TV.  There is a movie called "Saint John in Exile" which is a one man two act stage play.  The actor is Dean Jones and he does an outstanding job.  We had not seen this in a while and really enjoyed it.  It put me in the right frame of mind for the services tomorrow.  The depiction in this movie of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus is just outstanding.
While on the phone with Jason these 2 were trying to impress.
We had a good visit in Henderson.  I cut down a tree for my mother and she tried to help.  I told her not to but she would not listen to me.  After the tree was down I had to cut one limb at a time off the trunk and then drag it away so my mother would not.  It took me longer this way but with her having a cracked sternum she had no business dragging and piling limbs.  She seemed to be doing very well.  I noticed that her TV was missing.  She had put it in the closet because she said she did not watch it.  I don't think she has a radio so the news and weather will just have to take her by surprise.  When she was a youngster they had no TV so life can be lived without it. 
I had a long phone conversation with Jason.  They are doing very well.  We are really looking forward to our trip there in August.  Southern France is kind of like Southern California.  The people are nice and the weather is too.  My knowledge of French is not coming along as fast as I would like but I will know way more than I did the last time I was in France.  We went to France in October 2009 and walked or took the train everywhere we went seeing the sites of Paris.  We went again in August 2010 and traveled by car to see some of the local sites.  This year will be our third and longest trip.  We are going to rent a car and travel extensively this time seeing a lot more of the country.
My sister from Denver called and said she was spending the night in Kansas.  She is heading to our mother's house to spend the week.  The reunion is Saturday and I am looking forward to seeing everyone.  The sermon I will be preaching tomorrow is pasted below.  God bless you.

The Tomb of Jesus:

Matthew 28:6 “The Tomb of Jesus”

(Mat 28:6) He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

It is good for us to use our imaginations combined with meditation to journey to the places where our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ tread. Every event of His life and ministry here on the earth is precious to the child of God. One who loves the Lord will only come away from such a journey with a greater love and appreciation for His Master. It is to this employment of your mind that I call upon you to make even now as I lead you to the tomb of Jesus.
First let us consider the worthiness of this journey. Is it worth our effort to thus bridle our minds and coax them away from this present reality? I say that it is indeed and I lay before you the following arguments of proof.
First there is the value of the one whose tomb we shall visit. This tomb was the resting place, though a brief one, for the body of the greatest man to ever live. He is the greatest friend you will ever have. Yea, He is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother. Being your friend makes him a friend of sinners. Such ones are unworthy of such devotion as displayed in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. He is the greatest teacher to ever exist. His knowledge in every subject matter excels that of men and angels, yea of any creature for with Him even the hairs of our head are numbered and not one sparrow falling from the sky escapes His notice. He is the most powerful being among all things that exist for even the demons, the angels, the sun, the moon, the stars, the winds and the waves obey Him. If you have lost a loved one and have ever visited their grave, if you have ever left flowers there and spent even the briefest of moments there contemplating their life and death then compare that one to the one whose tomb we shall visit today and you will be compelled to, with all haste, shut out the here and now and savor every precious second that we shall spend at Christ's borrowed tomb.
Second there is a need for this journey. It is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation that the dogged cares of this world are excellent detractors. Our busy lives and the worldly influences which surround us keep or minds occupied to such a degree that we rarely if ever remember our Maker, our Redeemer, our sustainer, our High Priest, and Friend who is touched with the feeling of our infirmities and who stands tirelessly interceding for us to the Father against the accuser of our brethren. We have been commanded to remember Christ and given two symbolic ordinances to observe that we might keep our eyes fixed upon things above. The child of God distracted by this world forgets that he is a pilgrim and a stranger here on earth. Distracted children of God forget that this world is not their home.
Third it is a beneficial journey. We will find at the tomb that which we need to stir our hearts and minds to revival. We shall find victory, joy, power, light, peace, and hope within the confines of this hollowed, hallowed, borrowed, rocky tomb which served as the receptacle for the dead nail scared beaten body of Jesus.
Let us now go to the tomb and let us be obedient to the command of the angel of God as were the women to whom the command was directed. Let us like them and like the angels, like Peter, and like John go now and see the place where the Lord lay. We shall first take notice of the exterior of the tomb and of the immediate area in front of the tomb. It is not far from the place where Jesus was crucified. It is a very short walk to a beautiful garden which has but one gate. This garden has flowers and herbs growing within the confines of its hedged fence. It has been well cared for by a professional gardner. Mary thought she was talking to that gardner when she was actually talking with Jesus, the one, by the way, who created the greatest garden of all, the garden of Eden and placed the man in it to tend it and be its gardener. This is not a graveyard. There are no other tombs here beside the one we shall enter. It is a garden and that is its primary purpose. That the rich man, Joseph, has chosen this lovely garden for his burial place is not surprising for it is beautiful indeed. See there is growing here mint, cumin, leeks, onions, garlic, figs, grapes, and dill. It is a productive garden and well tended. Notice here, before we turn our attention to the tomb, that some of the plants have been crushed as though someone has fallen upon them. These bare witness that the “watch” became as dead men for fear. Fleeing this place they have trampled over the plants taking the shortest route to the exit. Of what could these seasoned warriors have been so frightened? One angel of God, just one! One powerful enough to roll away the great stone with but a wave of his hand. One whose face looked like lightening and his robe long and white.
This garden contains the object of our destination. It is the tomb of a wealthy man. It is a new tomb which has never been used. It is a virgin tomb for the one who was born of a virgin womb. Why is it that the man of sorrows who had not where to lay his head while here on earth should be buried in a rich man's tomb. It is because He was the sinless Son of God. Like his birth place his tomb is in an unexpected place. To have the King of Kings born in a stable is completely unexpected. For one so despised and rejected of men to be buried in a rich man's tomb is also unexpected. It is appropriate for Jesus to have the best for his work on earth is finished. From the moment He cried “It is finished” Jesus will be glorified never to suffer shame and reproach again.
Now the moment we have anticipated has arrived let us enter the tomb. The great stone has been rolled away and the hollowed out rock bids us come. Do not fear to enter as did John but rather as did Peter enter with all confidence and courage. Is not a grave an unclean place by reason of the decay that is to be found there? That would be true enough were it any other persons tomb. On the fourth day the tomb of Lazarus stank of death and decay. Yours will one day do the same but this is the tomb of Jesus. Enter now. Breathe in deeply let the air pass through your nostrils. There is but the sweet smell of spices. There has been no decay, no corruption has occurred here. Though His body lay here for three days and three nights it did not see corruption. The skin worms have not been allowed to have their way with our Lord and Savior. No ants or vermin have been allowed on this Holy ground. Without being overpowered by the stench of death the sweet spices have had full reign here and have turned this place of gloom into the sweetest smelling place on earth. Let us sit here on the floor and abide a while.
Look at the ledge upon which His body lay. Here on this end was His head. Here was the place of His feet. I sat upon the floor because to me the spot where the Body of our Lord lay is too Holy to touch. For three days and nights His body lay here. His Spirit went to Paradise from the cross but His body was brought here. This place was just a temporary place to hold a dead body for a while. It truly was a borrowed tomb. Jesus returned it to its owner cleaner and sweeter smelling than it was when loaned.
It is peaceful here. The one who has just risen from this place has taken with him all our guilt and shame. He has taken with Him all our cares. He has surely born our griefs and carried our sorrows away. I sit here on this rocky floor a redeemed, ransomed, forgiven, justified, and sanctified child of God because my sins have been carried away out of this world as far as the east is from the west. What sweet victory we find here in this tomb. What peace with God we find here. Our garments are white having been washed in the blood of the lamb.
It is a formidable place, this tomb. Should that great stone roll over the door it would be humanly impossible for us to escape. We would be trapped here to await rescue. One day my body will lie in such a place and will be powerless to escape. My lifeless body will be held in the grip of death and the grave. O death where is thy sting, O grave where is thy victory. The sting of death is sin and the strength of sin is the law but thanks be to God who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. The grave could not hold the Son of God and by faith in Him the grave will not hold me either. It is an empty tomb. It was emptied by God and not by men. That which is too powerful for man to do God can do. All things are possible with Him. He needed no angel to let Him out of this place. The angel opened the tomb not to release Jesus but to show the world that He had risen.
I can not help but think as I sit here in this tomb that it was my sins that sent my Savior to this place. I am the one to blame for His death. Yet it was God the Father who took my sins and placed them on Jesus. It was an act of Grace and Mercy. Jesus paid my debt and now I am free. I do not fear the grave for Jesus has had the victory over it and as its conquerer He will one day set me free from my tomb. He will one day come with a shout and with the voice of the ark angel and with the trump of God and the dead in Christ will rise to meet the Lord in the air and so shall we ever be with the LORD.
The last enemy to be defeated will be death. On the new earth there will not be found a tomb. There will be no graves and no grave yards on that new earth. Everyone there will know what a tomb is but will not miss them at all.
As we leave this tomb lets us do so with a grateful heart. As we exit the door let us rise from this tomb to walk in newness of life. Let us live victorious lives. Let us live without fear of death. Let us share the secret of our victory with those who are lost.
We have left the tomb the same way we entered it. We entered as mortals still awaiting our appointment with death and we have exited the same way. When we rise from our own tombs one day we will be immortal and incorruptible like unto Christ. What a glorious day that will be!
If you are not saved, if you have never gone to Jesus Christ in prayer confessing to him the guilt and shame of your sin and begged Him to have mercy on your soul and to save you from your sin then please do not ignore the drawing of God's Holy Spirit as it convicts you of your sin but believe in Jesus Christ and trust in Him and be saved now.

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